Open field trial for wheat set for September
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Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

— Agriculture Ministry collaborating with EMBRAPA to test six varieties

WITH much focus being placed on reducing Guyana’s and the Caribbean’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, is optimistic that with the introduction of new crops, wheat being one of many, the agriculture goal will be met.

Mustapha, speaking on the sidelines of an event on Friday, said an open field trial for wheat has been scheduled to commence by September month-end at Santa Fe, North Rupununi, Region Nine.
“I’m mostly interested on when we will start the open field trial, we have already visited the area in Santa Fe, Region Nine,” Mustapha told reporters, adding: “I am hoping that at the end of September we can have less rainfall and commence the open field trail.”

For the open trial, the minister stated that Guyana will be partnering with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) to see the project.
“We are having co-operation from EMBRAPA; it’s like the research institute that we have like NAREI [National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute]. The director who specialises in tropical wheat production has visited Region Nine.”

Six varieties will be tested during the open field trail and once completed and successful, the ministry will move to produce wheat on a larger scale.
“I’m very optimistic that wheat can grow in Guyana in the open field,” he said, adding: “Generally, we can harvest [wheat] with a combine and we have a flour mill in Guyana already so that won’t be a problem for us.”

He reiterated that continued diversification and introduction of new crops will help the country in reducing its food import bill.
“We know for a fact that this will help us to reduce the food import bill. If we can grow our own wheat, if we can grow our own corn and soya, if we can grow all those berries, then our food import bill will reduce tremendously.”

Prices for wheat have skyrocketed globally due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia and Ukraine account for approximately 30 per cent of the world’s traded wheat.
To ease the negative economic impact felt locally, President, Dr Irfaan Ali, in March, had announced that Guyana is exploring the possibility of sourcing a variety of wheat for local production.

“Soon, we are going to work to see whether we can find a variety of wheat that we can plant in Guyana, so that we can fulfill even our local requirement,” President Ali had said earlier this year. He added: “We are learning important lessons now that we must not leave unanswered for future generations.”

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